Open Letter to the Premier

Dear Premier Notley:

Thank you.

Your plan to increase Alberta's minimum wage to $15 by 2018 will help hundreds of thousands of working Albertans live with greater security and dignity.

It's a plan that is welcomed by more than 300,000 Albertans who are struggling to make ends meet on wages of $15 an hour or less – with the vast majority earning between $13 and $15 an hour.

Employers have been twisting numbers and statistics in order to leave the impression that most of these people are kids without responsibilities. But the reality is that more than half of these people are the heads of their households or their spouses. And 33,000 of them are single parents. The majority of these workers are women.

Alberta is one of the provinces with the highest cost of living, and the highest median wages. For too long, our lowest-paid workers have been left behind. A $15 an hour minimum wage is not only welcome news for workers, it is long overdue.

Under your plan, minimum wage will be increased by $1.00 to $12.20 per hour this October. It will rise a further $1.40 to $13.60 per hour on October 1, 2017, and by $1.40 to $15 per hour on October 1, 2018. Each of these steps is moderate and thoughtful. As a whole, the plan is courageous and just.

Just as importantly, the lower wage paid to servers at licensed restaurants will be eliminated, closing a loophole that some unscrupulous employers have exploited.

Predictably, some employers say the sky will fall if they’re no longer allowed to pay poverty wages. This is what these employers always say when governments talk about increasing the minimum wage, whether it’s a big increase or a small one; and whether it’s proposed during boom times or busts.

But the truth is that that minimum wage increases – even large increases and increases made during recessions – have never led to job losses in the economic sectors most likely to employ low-wage workers.

The bottom line is that $15 is Fair! A $15 minimum wage in Alberta will be good for individuals and good for the economy!

Premier Notley, we applaud your decision on this important issue.

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